The Civil War: A Call For Freedom
Slavery is Not the Issue…Yet • For the duration of the war, the main goal of the North had been to preserve the Union, not destroy slavery. • Abolitionists did not control the North, or even the Republican Party. • Even Lincoln had publically stated that he only wanted to prevent the expansion of slavery, not end it altogether. • This did not mean that Lincoln supported slavery. • In order to keep public support for the war, he had to take into account the fact that more states may leave the Union should he move against slavery too quickly.
A Change of Heart • As the war went on, many in the North began to believe that slavery was helping the war effort in the South. • Enslaved people in the Confederacy raised crops used to feed the armies and did the heavy work in the trenches at the army camps. • In 1861 and 1862, Congress passed laws that freed enslaved people who were held by those active in the rebellion against the Union. • Lincoln also recognized that Britain and France would be less likely to aid the South if slavery ended.
The Emancipation Proclamation • By the summer of 1862, Lincoln had decided to emancipate, or free, all enslaved African Americans in the South, although he needed to wait for the right time. • He did not want it to appear an act of desperation at a time when the North seemed to be losing the war. • On September 22, 1862, 5 days after the Union victory at Antietam, Lincoln announced his plan. • He formally signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863.
Effects of the Proclamation • Because the Emancipation Proclamation applied only to areas that the Confederacy controlled, it did not actually free anyone. • Lincoln knew, however, that many enslaved people would hear about it, and it might encourage them to run away. • The Proclamation, coupled with Lincoln’s announcement that African Americans could now join the Union army, proved hugely popular with African Americans in the North. • It also impressed Britain and France, both of which had already abolished slavery, and they decided not to recognize the Confederacy as a nation. • Lincoln also fought hard for Congress to pass the 13th Amendment in 1865, which truly freed all enslaved Americans.
African Americans in the Confederacy • When the war began, over 3.5 million enslaved people lived in the Confederacy, more than 30% of the population. • They performed vital tasks such as growing food on plantations, working in mines, and even working as nurses and cooks in the Confederate army. • For most of the war, though, they had been forbidden to become Confederate soldiers for fear that arming them may cause them to incite slave rebellions. • By the end of the war, though, 1/6 of the African American population had fled for the North, and there was talk that the remaining men should be offered their freedom in exchange for fighting for the Confederacy. • Although a law was passed that allowed them to enlist, the regiments were never organized.
Helping the North • In the North at the beginning of the war, African Americans had also been forbidden to serve as soldiers. • Many served as guides and spies to help the cause. • In 1862 Congress passed a law allowing African Americans to serve in the Union army, and with the passing of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1864, the number of enlistees surged. • By the end of the war, African American volunteers made up nearly 10% of the Union army and 18% of the navy, about 200,000 people.
African American Soldiers • African American soldiers were organized into regiments separate from the rest of the Union army. • Most of their commanding officers were white. • At first, they received lower pay than white soldiers, but protests changed that in 1864. • Many white Southerners, outraged by African American soldiers, threatened to execute any they captured. • The sight of free African Americans in uniform marching through the South, though, served as a source of inspiration for those still living in slavery.